This Snowpiercer review contains spoilers.
Snowpiercer Season 3 Episode 10
Three different philosophies are all battling for control on Snowpiercer. Wilford and his hardcore supporters (and people too afraid to cross him) are in the middle, ready to take advantage of any openings. Melanie and her supporters are preparing to keep the train moving along the tracks in the hopes that the future will be brighter (and less of a risky trip). Finally, there’s Layton and his New Eden truthers, who are willing to risk things now in the hopes of more immediate returns on their gamble. It’s headed for war, with a lot of innocent people, like Roche’s brakemen and the Second Class passengers who make things work, trapped in the middle.
It seems as though there are a lot of people caught in the middle. Layton sold everyone a bill of goods after a fashion; he said a lot about New Eden that he can’t prove, even with lots of readings and scientific study. Melanie might have prudence on her side; she’s the person in whose name New Eden was undertaken, and now that she’s back she’s got some reasonable doubts about the whole project. She’s also not that far removed from being a brutal dictator pretending to rule in Wilford’s name. And then there’s Wilford himself, with his core group of loyalists and toadies.
Most people seem to be unaligned, which is both good and bad. It leaves the hardcore followers without numbers enough to overwhelm the opposition, which means no side has a clear majority and no side has a mandate from the people for their belief. There’s no clear winning side, so that means the only way out is violence. Yet again, people go back to their old ways.
One of the cleverer bits in Aubrey Nealon and Graeme Mason’s script is that moment in which Layton and Melanie talk on the phone to one another. She comments about his quickness to shed blood and he comments about her quickness to take dictatorial control. Both of them are well aware of the spoiler that hangs between them, waiting to screw up a perfectly good war for control of Snowpiercer by taking it back for himself. Melanie knows the numbers aren’t on her side, even with so many undecided, so she turns to the source of her old dictatorial power for assistance. Wilford’s hardcore supporters, bolstered by a resurrected Icy Boki (Aleks Paunovic), might not be enough, but it’s at least a more substantial threat to counterbalance the Tail and an extra weapon to be used should she decide to go that way.
So much of the episode involves people picking sides, and that leads to a lot of tough choices for characters. Everyone has to pick a side, either to support Melanie and Wilford or Layton; it seems as if staying out of the violence isn’t going to be possible. Things tend to spread on the train, be it personality cults, sickness, or bloodshed. For some, it’s an easy choice. For others, it’s more difficult based off of just where they happen to be when Layton’s tailies take Ag Sec and Wilford’s troops hole up in the Night Car.
If the choices were hard when it was just drawing up battle lines, the choices get even harder once the situation is resolved without significant bloodshed via a little trickery worked out between Melanie and Layton. It’s a pretty clever ruse, all things considered, luring Wilford out of sight to allow him to be captured and exiled by Layton and Melanie. Full credit to both Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly, they both make good gloat faces as the petulant Sean Bean loads himself into the track skimmer Melanie had used to survive the cold. That solid performance follows on down the line as every character has to choose between staying on the aging train and following Layton and Big Alice off on what might be a suicide mission.
In particular, Rowen Blanchard and Jennifer Connelly make the most of their scenes together, as expected. That pairing just jumps off the screen and feels so very natural; it’s a credit to both actors to pull off that complicated emotional give and take in a realistic way, with laughing through tears and crying through laughter. Till and Audrey’s split-up threat doesn’t work quite as well, if only because those characters haven’t had the investment up to this point; Mickey Sumner and Lena Hall do their best, but we haven’t gotten two seasons of the two of them figuring out their relationship so naturally the impact is lesser.
Director Christoph Schrewe doesn’t lessen the impact of the suspenseful scenes, because we know what it means when the Tail forms a shield wall bristling with spears, or when the brakemen get their riot shields and truncheons ready. Blood will be shed, it’s only a matter of time. That no one seems to want it doesn’t make it any less tense; the Tail will do whatever it takes to maintain freedom, and Roche will do what he has to to maintain order between all sides. It’s all solidly done, and maintained right until the point the trap catches Wilford.
Even after the situation is resolved, there’s still a terrifying train trip over deteriorated track and an old trestle bridge to the horn of Africa to be resolved, which is a nightmare in and of itself that reminds me of every car accident I’ve ever been involved with. It seems to work out well enough for them in the end, but it’s a hairy trip that ends ambiguously. One thing to be said for Snowpiercer, they know how to drop a teaser in a season finale.